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Crack pipe use surges by almost 300%, HSE figures show

There has been a 277% increase in the number of crack pipes distributed by the Health Service Exe...
Newstalk
Newstalk

16.00 25 Jan 2021


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Crack pipe use surges by almos...

Crack pipe use surges by almost 300%, HSE figures show

Newstalk
Newstalk

16.00 25 Jan 2021


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There has been a 277% increase in the number of crack pipes distributed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the past five years.

While just under three million needles for heroin use have also been handed out since 2016.

The use of crack cocaine is rapidly increasing in Ireland with almost 50,000 crack pipes given out to users by the HSE over the past five years.

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The drug is described as being highly addictive, as it produces a much stronger but shorter lasting high than cocaine.

Since 2016, the HSE has spent €65,000 on the pipes, according to the Irish Times.

CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin, says sterile drug paraphernalia can reduce the risk of hepatistis C among users.

"We give out glass crack pipes, as do the HSE, in them you'll find a little gauze.

"That helps - doesn't remove the risks - but that helps with reducing the scaring on the lungs, for example".

"We give crack pipes out to people who have already used crack - quite often what people are doing is they're making makeshift crack pipes, which adds to the risk that people take in terms of their use of crack.

"So you are using things that aren't intended to be used to smoke with.

"There can be chemicals from plastics and things that you're also inhaling".

Figures also show that there has been around €800,000 spent on needles for heroin use.

Professor Colin O'Gara is head of Addiction Services at St John of God's Hospital in Dublin.

He says crack cocaine is definitely one of the most dangerous substances.

"This is really the end result of cocaine being so widely available for such a long period of time in Ireland.

"And a by-product of that is that people will naturally move from powdered cocaine to crack cocaine".

Prof O'Gara also said the issue of so-called 'speed balling' is a problem.

"Particularly the concurrent injection of crack cocaine and heroin in a single vile would be the process known as 'speed balling'.

"Speed balling is a significant problem in most urban centres world-wide, and it's something that we've been fearful of for quite a long time".

These figures from the HSE do not include the number of crack pipes given out by local drug agencies.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact the HSE Drugs and Alcohol helpline on 1800-459-459 (Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 5:30pm), or e-mail helpline@hse.ie

Reporting by Josh Crosbie

Main image: A woman prepares a crack pipe in Germany in November 2019. Picture by: Boris Roessler/DPA/PA Images

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Ana Liffey Drug Project Crack Cocaine Crack Pipe Crack Pipe Use Hse Needles For Heroin Professor Colin O'Gara Speed Balling St John Of God's Hospital Tony Duffin

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